The Printer Alignment Dialog

The Printer Alignment Dialog


Printers are imprecise beasts. You can tell them to print something exactly 1.2 inches from the top of the paper, but chances are, it'll end up being more like 1.1 or 1.28 inches from the top. The older your printer gets, the more likely this is to occur, as all the little mechanical bits that escort paper into and out of the printer get worn out. You're not likely to notice this flaw when you're printing, say, a resumé. And if your interviewer is measuring the margins on your resumé, you may be happier elsewhere anyway. But when you're printing CD labels on a pre-cut form, every millimeter matters. (That's why millimeters would rather be on a CD label than a plain sheet of paper - they like to feel important.) If your printer is a millimeter awry on a CD label, you'll get a millimeter of white, unprinted space on your label. It won't look good.

If your printer is consistently wrong, which is often the case, you can use the Printer Offsets section of this dialog to correct it. If the printer always prints a millimeter to the right of where it's supposed to, you can use this section to tell the program to always print labels one millimeter to the left of where they'd normally go, which will cancel out the printer's imprecision and make things print just where they ought to be.

Before you make any adjustments via this dialog, we'd like to make two important recommendations:

Recommendation #1: Run the

Printer Calibration Wizard first!  This wizard will print a calibration test sheet to help you determine what settings you need in this dialog -- and in fact, you can enter them there instead, and you may never actually have to launch this dialog at all. You can get to the Printer Calibration Wizard from the "File" menu.

Recommendation #2: If you've launched this dialog to fix the alignment for printing printable discs, stop! Go to the Edit Paper/Printer Templates dialog instead. The alignment error a printer has for printing paper from a paper tray and for printing on a CD that's fed into the printer via a CD tray is almost never the same, so applying the same alignment adjustments to both is likely to cause problems.

You can set alignment settings exclusively for your CD tray at the Edit Paper/Printer Templates dialog, and, thanks to the "Don't apply to printable discs" checkbox on this dialog, you can make alignment settings exclusively for paper on this dialog, and they'll never interfere with each other. You can also, of course, make alignment adjustments for particular paper types from the Edit Paper/Printer Templates dialog (keep in mind that changes made there will apply to any printer you print that paper in, whereas changes in this dialog only apply to a particular printer.) You can launch the Edit Paper/Printer Templates dialog from the "File" menu.

"Printer Offsets" controls:

Move labels by: There's one of these sections each for horizontal and vertical paper alignment. Enter the amount of space, in millimeters, by which you need to move labels horizontally and vertically, respectively, for the printer you've chosen.

To the left/To the right: Lets you select the direction in which to correct your printer's horizontal printing errors. If your printer always prints stuff too far to the right, check the "To the left" box. If it always prints too far to the left, check the "To the right" box.

Up/Down: Lets you select the direction in which to correct your printer's vertical printing errors. If your printer always prints stuff too far down the page, check the "Up" box. If if prints too high, check the "Down" box.

Don't apply to printable discs: If this box is checked, the printer-alignment settings you make here will be ignored when you're printing on printable discs. We recommend checking this option. The printer alignment error that occurs when printing on paper from a paper tray is highly unlikely to be identical to any printer alignment error that occurs when you're printing on a CD tray inserted into the printer, so using the same settings for both is likely to create as many problems as it solves. We recommend using the alignment settings on this dialog to account for paper-related alignment errors, and using the Edit Paper/Printer Templates dialog (which you can launch from the File menu) to account for any printable-disc alignment error.

The "Stretch Labels" section:

If your printer doesn't align correctly, but isn't consistent about it, you can correct it by using the brute force method of stretching all the labels by a millimeter or two, which will result in the label being slightly larger in every direction. So even if your printer prints too high one pass, and too low the next, or likes to feint left and print right, you'll be set.

We generally recommend setting the stretch labels amount at one to two millimeters. We also recommend that you don't put important stuff, such as text, within a millimeter or so of your label borders or the CD hole unless you have a fabulously reliable printer, because otherwise it stands a good chance of getting chopped off when you print it.

But don't stretch plain-paper labels: This checkbox lets you specify whether or not you want to apply your stretch settings to labels you print on plain paper. By default, this box will be checked, which is our recommendation. The stretch labels settings are designed to overcome problems with your printer's alignment so that you can fit labels onto premade forms. But since plain paper doesn't have any pre-perforated labels that you need to line your labels up with, stretching isn't necessary, and in fact will only make your labels bigger than they need to be. 


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